OSWEGO, NY — The Oswego State men’s lacrosse team is raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an international organization dedicated to funding research to find cures for childhood cancers. With 18 Oswego players, an assistant coach and the head coach all registered as to get their heads shaved, the 20-member fundraising team is currently the largest of the 30 teams signed up for this year’s annual St. Baldrick’s Day in Oswego.
Senior captain and midfielder Matt Palmer leads the fundraising team so far with $200 showing on the website.
“Cancer has touched my family, so I know how hard of a toll it can take on families,” he said. “It’s insane to imagine what these young kids have to go through. If raising money and simply shaving our heads can do anything to help with that, then it became pretty easy to get our guys on board.”
“We have all been pretty excited about it. We have a few guys who have been growing their hair out for years, and it’s down to their shoulders. A lot of the guys have been motivated to be a shavee, too,” Palmer added. “Because the guys with the longest hair are doing it, others feel obligated to do it too. We’ve been joking about how none of our helmets are going to fit the day after; it will be interesting to see all 20 guys readjusting their helmets on (April) 13.”
Defenseman Evan Priest is listed as the fundraising team captain and is currently third in donations.
“I’ve been encouraging my teammates to join the event since it’s about collecting donations for a very good cause,” said the sophomore. “Also, I think it’s great that Coach B (head coach Drew Bezek) and Coach Knapton (assistant coach Adam Knapton) have signed up, too. I think this will bring everyone on the team together even more when we have our heads shaved together.”
The team has set a lofty goal of raising $20,000 and have already raised more than $750 in less than a week.
Although the head-shaving event is set for April 12, donations can be accepted throughout the rest of the year.
The Laker Lacrosse team started the St. Baldrick’s tradition in Oswego back in 2007, when the team organized its first head-shaving event, led by team captains, alumnus Vinny Garrison ’97, and head coach Dan Witmer ’82.
Garrison had organized a few St. Baldrick’s fundraisers in Rockland County and encouraged the 2007 team to sponsor its own head-shaving event.
The team got behind the idea and raised $11,000 that first year.
The next year, the event raised more than $17,000 and started to involve more and more of the community.
By 2012, the event raised more than $72,000, with the Oswego Fire Department, New York State Troopers, Oswego County Sheriffs, local students and other Laker athletes all showing their support.
In 2013, the event raised more than $92,000 and last year it raised $95,400.
All told, eight years of Oswego St. Baldrick’s fundraisers have raised more than $388,000.
Witmer now serves as the community service coordinator for the Oswego State athletic department, and the annual St. Baldrick’s fundraiser is the department’s marquee event among its many year-long projects and events.
To make a donation, check on the team’s fundraising status, or learn more about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, go to www.stbaldricks.org.